JJ and I started a Christmas tradition a few years ago. The day after Christmas, we take the Caltrain up to the City (San Francisco), and spend some time up there, ending with eating pizza at a great restaurant close to the Caltrain station.
Today we made our yearly trek up to the City as a family. With my brother along, I wanted to do something a little more tourist-y, so after riding to the end of the Caltrain line, we boarded a Muni train that took us along the Embarcadero, under the beautifully lit Bay Bridge, then down underneath the city where we got off at Powell & Market Street. We didn’t realize what a popular station that is! It’s the station closest to Union Square, which is full of big-name stores and home to San Francisco’s big Christmas tree (which was where we were going). With it being the day after Christmas, there were plenty of shoppers. Plus, Powell Street is the end of the cable car line, so there were people lined up for their turn at a cable car ride. And, we were right on Market Street, which is the main street of San Francisco. We got there around 5pm, and it was absolutely CRAZY as we headed up the escalators to the street level where we found a small protest going on (there were about ten people protesting Scientology – not sure why). We wended our way through that as well as navigated the panhandlers, who seemed to be everywhere! San Francisco is known as a city that is kind to its homeless population, but this was more than I’d ever seen! The sidewalks were quite crowded, and Lyd got sternly admonished to stay close to us. I don’t think she much needed that admonishment, however, as she was a little overwhelmed by everything.
At first, I thought, “What have we gotten ourselves into?” But after a bit, once we were headed in the right direction towards Union Square (we wanted to see the big Christmas tree), it got better. There were three of us adults to watch over the two girls, so that was helpful. After a while, it became kind of fun being in this huge throng of humanity. It was certainly evergizing, I can assure you of that! And it reminded me of how big the world is. When you stay home much of the time, and have your small circle of places and friends that you visit regularly, you forget how big the world is, and, for me, what a populated area we live in. But I’m glad I live where I do. I don’t know if I’d want to live up in the City, but it’s fun to visit
It was a four-block walk up to Union Square, where we saw the tree and took pictures. Here’s one of the tree:
It was pretty cool to be there. Union Square is surrounded by big-name stores: Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Nieman Marcus, and other fancy stores that I can’t remember now. All of those stores were decorated and many had Christmas trees as well. Here’s a picture of Curious J and me with the Macy’s store in the background. Notice the wreaths in every window, and the lights behind their big Christmas tree constantly shifted color:
Next to Macy’s was a Merrell store, which sells high-quality shoes. Even though I hadn’t planned on doing any shopping on this trip, this store piqued my interest, as I was in desperate need of a good pair of shoes, shoes that would fit my orthotics. I had foot surgery at the end of 2005 and have worn custom-made orthotics in my shoes ever since. However, finding shoes that fit my orthotics is a challenge, but Merrell is one store that sells shoes with removable insoles. Those are the kind of shoes I need. So when I saw there was a Merrell store there, I decided that we had to stop there to see what they had to offer.
We went into the store, which was crowded, and I thought in dismay that we would be there forever. However, it mostly cleared out in the first five minutes I was there, and was almost completely empty by ten minutes. I found two styles of shoes that were what I was looking for, and a nice, San Francisco-styled saleslady went to the back to get them in my size. However, she only had one of the two pairs in my size, BUT I liked it, it fit perfectly with my orthotics, and rather than dinker around wondering if I should take them or not, I said, “Sold!” I am VERY pleased, as I have been needing nice brown shoes for over a year. When I find what I need, I don’t worry about whether it’s on sale or not. I get it.
My two daughters were chasing each other around the store merrily (but not causing trouble, I made sure of that. But they both were in need of some time to safely run around a bit, so…), and Curious J tried to turn a corner too fast and took a tumble on the hard floor. She was okay, but it got me thinking that it’s time that she get her first pair of “real” shoes, as opposed to the Robeez knock-offs she usually wears. I looked around, realized I was already in the kids’ shoes section, so I chose an appropriate shoe, and asked the saleslady if they had this in my baby’s size. Well, not exactly in her size – I buy my kids’ tennis shoes big so that they’ll last them all year. J’s foot is a size 5 and we bought her a size 8 shoe. But I spent $30 on them, so I want them to last for a while! 🙂 It was pretty funny to watch her try to walk in her new shoes for the first time; she looked a bit like Frankenstein’s monster. JJ got a video of it on our camera. But pretty soon (much faster than Lyd did at her age) she was running around almost as fast as before.
After our little shopping excursion, we headed back to the Muni station, got on a train that took us back to the Caltrain station, stopped for a quick pizza supper at our favorite pizza place, and got back on the 7:30 train headed for home. Curious J was tired and a bit fussy on the train, but once she was given her pacifier and her blankie, she fell asleep in my arms.
It was a good day.